This is incredibly disheartening.
Environmental protesters are increasingly being treated like criminals and slaughtered when they are defending land from the encroachment of pipelines, mining, and other resource development, says a new report released on Thursday.
This revelation was included in a sweeping report by Global Witness on the state of “environmental defenders” in 2016—a year marked, for example, by ongoing protests of oil and gas pipelines in North America and many other forms of environmental protest around the world.
Criminalizing environmental protesters, the report argues, means people who oppose development projects face “trumped-up and aggressive criminal and civil cases.”
This translates to “silencing dissent,” scaring people, “tarnish[ing] their reputations,” and wasting court resources, the report said.
Though the report’s authors found criminalization was particularly prevalent in Latin America, they highlight Canada’s work on ushering in new anti-terror legislation and noted National Observer reporter Bruce Livesey’s coverage of RCMP surveillance of Indigenous and environmental activists.
Global Witness reports about 200 land and environmental defenders were killed in 2016. Graphic provided by Global Witness
About 4 activists a week were killed last year.